UC Capitals go down in first home game loss of the season
By John Robinson IV
Looking to avenge their only loss of the year, the Southside Flyers made their way to Canberra for a highly anticipated top of the table match against the UC Capitals.
Both teams, known for their offensive strengths, put on a show in the first quarter as they immediately traded baskets with one another. Flyers centre Mercedes Russell put her full arsenal on display with 11 points in the first. After a back and forth quarter, the Capitals found themselves down 22-19.
The UC Caps would settle into the second quarter with some really good defensive stops, quickly taking a two-point lead within the first three minutes. This match showed all the makings of a classic as neither team backed down. As the largest Canberra crowd of the season got involved in the game, the Capitals would go on a 6-0 run led by Madison Rocci and Keely Froling.
The Capitals showed a lot defensive improvement as they limited the Flyer’s inside scoring and forced them to settle for outside jump shots. Despite their usual strength of outside scoring, the UC Caps struggled to shoot the basketball, but thanks to some tough defense the Capitals would end the second quarter with a one-point 37-36 lead.
The third quarter had a slow start as neither team would score a basket until the 7:30 point in the game. The Capitals would still struggle to find their rhythm from the outside, but inside scoring seemed to be the determining factor to keep Canberra in front.
The point guard battle between Olivia Epoupa and Leilani Mitchell was fierce as neither player allowed the other to play-make for their team easily. The Capitals continued their tough defensive display as they made it hard for the Flyers high-powered offense to score the basketball. Kelsey Griffin and Kia Nurse would come alive in the final minute of the third quarter that would allow the Capitals to hold serve at 50-47.
As the fourth quarter began, the game was nothing short of what we expected from the top two teams in the pool. The Flyers would score two early baskets to give themselves a one-point lead, but the Capitals would quickly answer back. A big “And-1” finish by Mitchell would tie the game up at 54-54.
An unfortunate turnover would put the Flyers ahead by three points and the Capitals would find themselves in a nail-biter. As the two teams traded baskets, the Caps would still be down by four at the two minute mark. A big late three-pointer by Mitchell would push their lead to 7, but would be quickly answered back by Froling. Marianna Tolo scored a late two that cut the lead to 3, but an untimely turnover in the final seconds put a win out of the Capitals sights. The Southside Flyers won 70-65 breaking the Capitals 16 game win-streak at home.
Rebecca Cole led all scorers with 21 points. Tolo finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds and Epoupa with 11 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals.
The UC Capitals will remain at home for Round 10 as Bendigo comes to town for the first time this season on Saturday after they fell to the Caps in Round 8. To purchase tickets, click here.